Increased capacity will help association care for more children as pandemic restrictions lift

Summer camps are open and parents and kids need it bad. After a stressed-out, couped-up year, the YMCA of Metro North will open its outdoor summer day camps in Peabody and Saugus on June 21. Camp Eastman and Camp Sachem are gearing up for an influx of requests for summer child care now that pandemic restrictions have been largely lifted and people are getting back to normal life.

“Our waitlists are filling up and we’re going to have to add more capacity to our enrollments,” says Kathleen Walsh, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro North. “Kids have been couped up all year. Parents are stressed out. We want to offer a safe and engaging space for every child to get out, get active, and really dive into the hands-on learning that a summer camp experience provides.”

Last year, enrollment capacity limits were reduced for summer camps nationally due to the pandemic. Now, camp capacity numbers are inching back up to normal, with a few modifications.

“We have a lot of new activities and special events planned for the summer,” says Erin McManus, Director Camp Eastman in Peabody. “Campers are still required to bring masks with them if they can’t stay socially distant should we need to get inside due to bad weather. This year, I don’t think we’ll let a little rain dampen our spirit. We want to keep kids outdoors as much as possible, feeling relaxed, and having fun with their friends new and old.”

Camp Eastman in Peabody will offer new themed weeks around creative arts, science, dance and movement, swimming, and sports with an Olympics-themed week to celebrate the Summer Games in Tokyo.

“Summer camp is a great environment for children to become immersed in highly social experiences where they learn to communicate and collaborate effectively and work on relationship-building skills,” says Nicole Hanlon, Director Camp Sachem in Saugus. “Camps provide the physical space to explore and gain social and emotional skills like a sense of belonging, self-efficacy, decision-making skills, and self-regulation. These are all vital to their healthy development.”

This year, Camp Sachem in Saugus will implement a gardening program to further engage campers in a healthy living activity that benefits not only their physical and emotional well-being but also the environment.

The association will also open its indoor day camp, Camp Melstone in Melrose this summer.

“It’s been a trying year for everyone. Knowing my son will be able to attend a traditional Summer Camp, where he comes home every day happy and exhausted, is a sense of normalcy that we desperately need,” explains Kathleen Rooney, whose son attends Camp Eastman in Peabody. “Camp Eastman is the absolute best! My son has gone the past few summers and he loves it.”

“This is going to be a transformational year in a lot of ways, and we want to be there every step of the way to ensure our kids get back on track,” says Walsh. “Bring on summer, we are ready.”

Learn more about the YMCA of Metro North outdoor camps, indoor camps, and other summer programs: